Fear is inevitable.
But if I’ve learned anything about fear, it’s that preparedness, healing, and practicing how I respond in advance are key to my success.
Before we dive in, and because I’m committed to you getting the greatest value out of our time together, let’s first define success and why you might be here.
YOU MAY BE DRIVEN BY THE DESIRE TO MAKE AN IMPACT.
Deathbed regrets are ridden with questions like, “Did I make a big enough difference?”
Therefore, understanding and managing the role of fear is paramount to you accessing greater confidence and un-regrettably, quite literally making a positive difference in the world.
Now, let’s dive in.
There is no guarantee of success.
This creates great fear around taking action. How do you move through it?
Below are five methods that work for me.
#1 IDENTIFY: HOW DOES FEAR SHOW UP IN YOUR BODY?
Fight fear. This looks like aggression, violence or chasing after something.
Run away from fear. This looks like physically running away or drinking, or working too much.
Or do you just freeze and do nothing? This looks like procrastination or stopping dead in your tracks.
Fighting, fleeing, or freezing are known as F3 responses, unplanned biological responses to a perceived threat.
You may not be able to stop the F3 response, but you can recognize and minimize the impact.
FEAR CHANGES YOUR BIOLOGY IN THE SHORT-TERM AND LONG TERM.
“Fear […] triggers a strong physical reaction in your body. […] Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are released. Your blood pressure and heart rate increase. You start breathing faster.
Even your blood flow changes — blood actually flows away from your heart and into your limbs, making it easier for you to start throwing punches, or run for your life. Your body is preparing for fight-or-flight.”
— NORTHWESTERN MEDICINE
FEAR CAN MAKE IT HARD TO MAKE DECISIONS.
“As some parts of your brain are revving up, others are shutting down. […] now it’s difficult to make good decisions or think clearly.” — NORTHWESTERN MEDICINE
Accepting that fear arises is wisdom, not weakness.
#2 NAME YOUR FEAR
What are you scared of?
What triggers you?
Who always gets under your skin and gets your heart racing?
Make note of this.
Understanding the nature of what aggravates your F3 response is key to healing it or managing it.
#3 HEAL YOUR BIOLOGY
In The Biology of Fear, a 2013 research study conducted by Ralph Adolphs, a Stanford Graduate and Bren Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Biology at Caltech, Adolphs illuminates that fear has many faces.
“A variety of evidence supports a view [that] there are types of fear. ” — ADOLPHS, THE BIOLOGY OF FEAR
The most common distinctions are fear, panic, and anxiety.
If you’re someone who suffers from panic or anxiety, it’s worth reviewing your diet. If you experienced chronic stress, emotional betrayal, or suffer from possible PTSD, it’s imperative to acknowledge.
HEALING IS THE FIRST STEP TO MANAGEMENT BECAUSE THE PHYSICAL RESPONSE IS NOT COMING FROM A HEALTHY BASELINE.
It’s an over-exaggerated response by the body indicating an imbalance. It isn’t ideal to attempt to manage this long term. It’s meant to be healed.
Anxiety and PTSD are both biological and psychological pointing to physical changes in the brain’s structure.
“Don’t beat yourself up if you want to make a difference and run into roadblocks of panic, anxiety, or PTSD. Instead, look into healing this. Management is a short-term solution.” — LALITA GABRIELLA BALLESTEROS
#4 PREPARE FOR ALL KNOWN OUTCOMES
Once you know your baseline F3 response, and how you naturally respond in stressful situations, you can begin to manage these responses.
To do this, you need to understand the delta between how you want to show up and your current reactions. Then, you prepare. Over-prepare. Practice the new way of being and rehearse all outcomes.
OVER-PREPARING AND PRACTICE ARE EFFECTIVE FOR TWO REASONS.
One, when your F3 response kicks in, you have a rehearsed response plan you can fall back on. Two, you’re more confident because you’ve watched yourself succeed in the face of that which scares you.
#5 PRACTICE THE UNDERSTANDING THAT YOU CANNOT CONTROL THE OUTCOME
You cannot control what other people do. This can be heartbreaking when you think other people are standing in the way of real change. Still, the fact remains, other people, make their own choices.
Focus on yourself.
Focus on who you can be and what you can create.
The rest is up to the powers that be. If you do not accept this fact, it will impair your ability to healthily make a difference long-term. Burnout, resentment, insanity, and failure are more likely outcomes.
Share this with a friend in need.
Go make a difference, for the better.
Lalita Ballesteros is a speaker, comedian, director, and the founder of Haus of Lala, a creative agency specializing in personal branding. She stands by the belief that your voice matters and that authentic self-expression is our most important work. In the past, Lalita’s disrupted the publishing industry with Seth Godin and The Domino Project (powered by Amazon) creating six best-sellers and raising over a quarter million in revenue in only four months. She also worked at the American Embassy in Rome, created a 6-figure Airbnb business, and oversaw ambassador efforts at Lyft. She speaks three languages and is a regular contributor for Positively Positive, a publication with over 2.5 million followers on Facebook. Lalita’s been seen on the stages of TEDx and Comedy Bary as well as in the pages of Fast Company, Etsy, Forbes, Yahoo Small Business, Mashable, and the best-selling book End Malaria. She currently lives in Toronto with her dog, Luna. Follow her writings and comedy here and #100daysofcomedy here.
Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio.